The Spainard has conquered the French Open 10 times and battled career-threatening knee and wrist injuries, but his greatest challenge awaits him.
The world number one and two-time US Open champion took his first-round record at the season’s concluding Grand Slam to 13-0 on Tuesday with a 7-6 (8/6), 6-2, 6-2 win over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.
But with torrential rain lashing the Flushing Meadows site, the roof on the showpiece Arthur Ashe stadium was shut tight, creating a giant echo-chamber for the boisterous crowd of 24,000.
“Being honest, it (the noise) is a little bit too much,” said the 31-year-old Spaniard, whose Grand Slam collection of 15 titles includes the 2010 and 2013 US Open crowns.
“The energy and support of the crowd is massive. I enjoy it and I have unforgettable memories from this tournament and this court, because the energy is different from in other places.
“But at the same time, under the roof, it’s too much noise. I was not able to hear the ball when hitting. I understand it’s a show, but under the roof we need to be a little bit more strict about the noise. All the noise stays inside, and this is difficult.